How Your ‘Break Style’ Is Killing Your Productivity

How Your ‘Break Style’ Is Killing Your Productivity
SHARE
THIS



Dr Amantha Imber (pictured below) is the Founder of Inventium, Australia’s leading innovation consultancy and the host of How I Work, a podcast about the habits and rituals of the world’s most successful innovators. In her latest post for B&T, the goodly Doc looks at how your breaks during the day could be ruining your productivity…

There are three types of people when it comes to taking breaks at work. The first type are those who don’t take breaks, because they believe breaks are for the “weak” and less productive. If they could have food and coffee delivered to them via IV drip, they would.

Amantha Imber 7

The second type find any excuse for a break. Is someone doing a coffee run? They’ll go with you! Are people gathering around the water cooler for a chat about last night’s episode of The Bachelor? Better get to the water cooler!

The third type have a more balanced approach to breaks and would typically pause for a mission-oriented break (e.g. get a coffee, eat a muffin) mid-morning and mid-afternoon. They might even take a lunch break, although more likely than not, they eat it at their desk.

If you can relate to any of those types, or perhaps you flit between a couple of different types, depending on your workday, there is a much better way to approach how you take breaks. Because if you fall into any of those categories, your “break style” is killing your productivity.

Emily Hunter and Cindy Wu from Baylor University were keen to understand what constituted the perfect break. One of the shortcomings of the majority of research into breaks is that it is generally conducted in a lab environment. Where Hunter and Wu were able to take things a step further is that their study looked at breaks in the real world.

The researchers recruited around 100 office workers in the United States. After every single break participants took over the course of a week, they were asked to complete a survey. Armed with a lot of data, several key findings emerged.

Have your first break early in the day

Hunter and Wu found that the timing of people’s breaks mattered a lot. Those who took their first break of the day early on in their “shift” reported feeling more energetic. This is in contrast to the idea of either saying up your break for when you feel like you really need it (e.g. struggling to the afternoon and then taking a break) or feeling like you are “too busy” to take a break and thus delaying it until the afternoon.

Align your break activity with something enjoyable

Second, breaks that fit with individuals’ preferences were more effective at re-charging. So if, for example, you got a coffee with a co-worker during your break, but don’t actually like coffee (or your co-worker, for that matter), this would be less recharging than if you were a book worm who used the break to do some reading.

While you might assume that activities involving more effort, such as running errands, would make for a less effective break than non-effortful activities, no difference was found. Likewise, the effectiveness of a break was not impacted by whether people left the office or did work related tasks during their break.

Take six x five-minute breaks

Research from the University of Colorado uncovered that in contrast to one 30-minute break, hourly five-minute walking breaks boost energy, sharpen focus, improve mood and reduce feelings of fatigue in the afternoon more effectively.

While you might be asking yourself how you will find the time for six breaks, just get into the habit of trying to take a quick walk on the hour. You might even use the “speedy meetings” setting in Google Calendar to schedule 25 and 50 minute meetings, rather than 30 and 60 minute meetings. Aim to “take five” in between meetings if you are trapped in a day of back-to-back meetings.

The 40-second power break

Finally, if you don’t have time to implement any of the above suggestions, as a last resort you’ll be happy to know that the minimum effective dose for a break is just 40 seconds. Research from the Journal of Environmental Psychology showed that taking a 40-second “Green Micro-break”, that is, looking at a view of greenery, increased concentration levels by eight per cent. So take less than a minute to find some trees to look at, set the timer for 40 seconds and enjoy the view!

 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Dr Amantha Imber work breaks

Latest News

Study: 51% Of Aussie Professionals Don’t Feel Safe Returning To The Office
  • Uncategorised

Study: 51% Of Aussie Professionals Don’t Feel Safe Returning To The Office

Just over half (51 per cent) of professionals who have been working remotely do not yet feel safe and happy to return to their co-located workplace, according to a survey of more than 3,000 working professionals by recruiting experts Hays.  Of these, Western Australians are the most confident, with 73 per cent of those who […]

Bendigo TAFE And Kangan Institute Launch Latest Advertising Campaign – Our Heroes
  • Campaigns

Bendigo TAFE And Kangan Institute Launch Latest Advertising Campaign – Our Heroes

Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute have launched their latest advertising campaign titled, Our Heroes, which is a celebration of the role their students play in the community. “Within a few short years, our students are building our houses, nursing our sick, fixing our cars, caring for our children and pets, designing our clothes – all […]

Splendid Promotes Mel Johnstone To Partner And Expands To The UK
  • Advertising

Splendid Promotes Mel Johnstone To Partner And Expands To The UK

Following a period of sustained growth and client wins, B2B technology marketing consultancy, Splendid Suggestions, has laid some solid foundations to support the business through the next phase of growth.  Off the back of a number of organic referrals from Australian–based clients sharing success with global counterparts, Splendid has recently appointed London-based Jess Littlewood (right, pictured), to lead the UK business and grow the new regional team.   Of the appointment, Tim Sands, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Splendid says “Jess […]

TikTok Appoints VMG Digital As Global Creative Marketing Partner
  • Media

TikTok Appoints VMG Digital As Global Creative Marketing Partner

VMG Digital, which creates bespoke, mobile-first video creative, optimised for social media platforms, today announces it has been appointed as a global Creative Marketing Partner for the TikTok Marketing Partner Program. Since launch in August 2020, the TikTok Marketing Partner Program gives brand marketers access to tools to create, measure and optimise ad campaigns on […]

Mediasmiths Appoints Natalie Murray As New Senior Account Planner/Buyer
  • Advertising

Mediasmiths Appoints Natalie Murray As New Senior Account Planner/Buyer

Independent media agency MediaSmiths today announced the appointment of senior media executive and former insights lead for independent agencies and direct clients at Nova Entertainment, Natalie Murray, as a new Senior Account Planner/Buyer. Murray will be responsible for end-to-end management, planning and buying for several of the agency’s key clients, ensuring outcomes are delivered. She […]

Simply flat lay design winner or champion gold trophy cup isolated on pink pastel colorful background. Victory first place of competition. Winning or success concept. Top view copy space
  • Media

Playground xyz And Are Media Win Inaugural IAB MeasureUp Awards

IAB Australia today announced Playground xyz and Are Media (formerly Bauer Media) as the winners of its inaugural IAB Australia MeasureUp Awards. Selected by the members of the MFA Interactive Committee, the winners will present their research during the 4th Annual MeasureUp conference which begins today. Playground xyz was awarded Best Advertising Effectiveness for its […]

Stockland Partners With Jules Sebastian For Virtual Recipe Series
  • Marketing

Stockland Partners With Jules Sebastian For Virtual Recipe Series

Stockland has partnered with Sydney-based presenter, stylist and author Jules Sebastian on a six-part Instagram TV recipe series – with episodes released monthly – in an effort to inspire customers to create healthy, easy-to-make meals from their kitchens at home. The series kicked off this month with an online demonstration from Jules on making the […]

Asian Youth Culture Agency PUSH Opens Sydney Office
  • Advertising

Asian Youth Culture Agency PUSH Opens Sydney Office

The Shanghai-born and Australian-owned creative agency, PUSH announces today the launch of their fourth creative studio in Sydney, Australia. PUSH are the leaders of culture-shaping content with a focus on Asian youth culture, skateboarding, music, fashion and gaming.